QWERTY

Michael sends word of a Guardian gallery dedicated to writers and their typewriters. Very nice — although I have trouble believing that Agatha Christie actually worked under those conditions.

They should have a photo of the great Charles Bukowski, who summed it all up in Notes of a Dirty Old Man, 1973: “WHEN YOU LEAVE YOUR TYPEWRITER YOU LEAVE YOUR MACHINE GUN AND THE RATS COME POURING THROUGH.”

Bukowski also said, in a poem in You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense, 1988: “take a writer away from his typewriter / and all you have left / is / the sickness / which started him / typing / in the / beginning.”

Ah, the millions (?) of keys pressed, the thousands of pages produced, in a former life spent with typewriters. Dean Koontz told me some 35 years ago, on the first evening I spent discussing books with him in his Central PA living room, that he had surprised local repairmen by typing so much and so often that he actually melted the motor of his IBM Selectric, fusing its innards into an unworkable mass. What a joy it was back then to even own one of those — mine was a lovely blue — even though it never produced any books, let alone dozens as did Koontz’s.

And now not only typewriters are — in the words of Miracle Max — “mostly dead,” it’s hard to find even a decent replacement keyboard that’s moderately priced. People type mostlywith their thumbs these days, on tiny phones.

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